EL DORADO — Union Mine High’s varsity boys basketball program dropped Friday’s conference match-up against Liberty Ranch 62-57 in a game that saw the Diamondbacks nearly overcome a 20-point deficit.
“We got it close,” head coach Mike Verbitsky said. “We got it to a spot where we felt we could win if we played smart, and just had some bad decisions when it came down to executing it.”
Struggling to produce in the first two quarters, Union Mine headed into the locker room at half down 38-20 despite some second-quarter momentum-building enthusiasm provided by Sean Verbitsky, Tommy Tolbert and Austin Russell.
“I thought our second group did a good job of giving us some effort to where, while they didn’t shrink their lead by a lot — they didn’t let it grow any farther,” Verbitsky said.
Union Mine regrouped at half and once Daniel Saich and Scott McIntyre worked to turn up the heat on the Hawks, the tides turned quickly.
Saich and McIntyre each finished with a team-high 16 points. Nine of Saich’s points came from beyond the arc while McIntyre picked most of his points up in the lane or at the line. Though Alec Vaughn’s seven points all came from free throws, he was a presence on the floor to free up Saich, McIntyre and others.
“We definitely made it interesting,” Mike Verbitsky said. “We knew if we could just get within five, six, eight points with four minutes left we’d have a chance. And we did, we just did not make those smart decisions that we needed to get it done. Some bad decisions in transition, poor choice of shot, it’s tough to lose to that but the guys played with effort.”
Union Mine attacked Liberty Ranch well in the second half, putting up 18 and 19 points in the third and fourth quarters. Sam Fleury finished with 10 points on the evening while Russell had six and (Sean) Verbitsky had a point to round out the scoring for Union Mine.